Unlike my on-going saga with destroyed floor pumps, I’ve actually had much better luck with hand held bicycle pressure gauges. But nonetheless, I’ve had three gripes: (1) how the hell do you know if it’s still accurate after years of service, (2) unlike pumps, bike pressure gauges are generally presta- or Schrader-only, and (3) the “reading lock” feature often times fails after a few months or years, making it impossible to easily get a pressure reading after removing the gauge from the tire. The first issue had been in the back of my mind for the past decade as I continued to use a seemingly indestructible plastic Zefal gauge from the 90’s – the problem was, it never seemed to match any of the gauges on my floor pumps, which themselves seemed more like random number generators than actual pressure indicators.
Not too long ago, digital pressure gauges were notoriously inaccurate and poorly calibrated from the factory. While I still wouldn’t trust most of the dollar-store digital gauges you see everywhere, digital pressure transducer technology has improved a lot, so now $15 or so will get you a quality digital gauge that will not only read accurately new out-of-the-box, but also five or so years down the road.
But it was the 2nd issue above that led me in search of a gauge capable of using on both presta and Schrader valves. Somehow I ended up settling on the Topeak SmartGauge D2 after a fairly limited search.
- Rotating head lets you fit the gauge into tight or awkward situations
- Pressure release but to let’s you bleed out pressure to hit a precise target
- Switches between presta and Schrader by moving a little lever
- Digital pressure reading is maintained on the display after you remove it from the valve
- Big LCD display is easy to read
- Press a button to switch units
- Battery-saving auto-off
- 250 psi max pressure for applications like shocks